By Aluel Majok
It’s interesting how one simple act of kindness can go a long way.
It began in August 2014 when Seddon café owner, Chris Gooden had been approached by school principle, Siobhan Jackson. The very passionate Jackson wanted Gooden to take part in a coffee program and to share his coffee secrets with a group of teenagers visiting Melbourne from Lockhart River, a remote community in far north Queensland.
“When you meet someone like Siobhan, her drive and motivation is infectious. When she asks you to do something – of course I would say yes – because she is so giving in what she’s doing.”
Although initially he was terrified, Gooden knew that he had to find a solution, as he understood how important the favour was to Siobhan.
For the teenagers from Lockhart River, the initiative meant a visit to the big city, a rewarding and unique experience. According to Gooden, in Lockhart River “there are 600 Aboriginals and 35 white people. So for them, coming to Melbourne was really like a fish out of water.”
Gooden, who grew up in a small town in a place called Galore, is no stranger to living the remote life. This made his trip to Lockhart River, in hope of assisting in the growth and development of a coffee store, all the more easier.
The Lockhart River coffee store is called Verandah Café, and is currently a temporary project. The café must be packed up and moved inside each night.
“You can’t do much add-on where they are, so in order for it to evolve it has to go to a proper kitchen”
Gooden, who is enthusiastic in growing the café, made several efforts to ensure its advancement.
“I spoke to the Mayor when I was up there, there’s things we can do…”
During his trip to Lockhart River, he met one particular teenager who was thirteen years of age. The student had missed the school trip to Melbourne but was very excited to make coffee. Within days and with only little practice, he was making beautiful coffee, with beautiful latte art ferns and love hearts.
“Anyone can make a cup of coffee, but you have to really enjoy it and love it and have a passion and expectation of yourself to master ii, and I suppose you want to identify those few people who have that drive and skill; and foster that.”
Certainly the trip has had a positive flow on Seddon Deadly Sins. It seems, however, that the biggest reward came from the opportunity of sharing skills whilst thinking outside of our own community.
In Gooden’s words: “The talent you save and hide, no one gets to enjoy it. But if you can share that and give it to somebody else, than you both get to enjoy it and that’s how we’re going to grow as communities.”
Coming out of this experience, Gooden learned something very valuable, yet easily forgotten: “We’re all Australians and we all have our own needs and expectations of a community.”
According to Gooden, he would definitely do it again.
“It’s really inspiring to go ‘what can I do to help you?’ I do want to go back to Lockhart River to help them grow the shop. The shop has to eventually change its location. I would love to consult and help them do that.”
Gooden, who likes every coffee, especially prefers a cappuccino with a sprinkle of chocolate on top, for what he calls a “nice little touch”. Perhaps some day these very teenagers that run the Verandah Café will soon invent their own coffee and share their secrets with Gooden.